Monthly Archives: February 2017

IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-26-2017

BILL PAXTON, STAR OF ‘BIG LOVE’ AND ACTION BLOCKBUSTERS

Bill Paxton on a press tour for the television series “Big Love” in Los Angeles in 2009. Credit Phil McCarten/Reuters

Bill Paxton, the affable actor who co-starred in a string of 1990s blockbusters including “Twister,” “Titanic” and “Apollo 13” and later played the lead in the critically acclaimed television drama “Big Love,” has died. He was 61.

His death, from complications of surgery, was announced on Sunday in a statement from a representative for his family. It did not elaborate on when and where Mr. Paxton died. But Rolling Stone reported that he died on Saturday.

Early in his career, Mr. Paxton had small parts in “The Terminator” in 1984 and “Aliens” in 1986. Both films were directed by James Cameron, who later featured the actor in more high-profile roles: as a used-car salesman who ripped off Jamie Lee Curtis’s character in “True Lies” in 1994, and as the treasure-hunting scientist who discovered the wreck of the ocean liner in “Titanic” in 1997.

In the 1990s, he also starred in Ron Howard’s Oscar-nominated film “Apollo 13,” portraying Fred Haise, one of three men trapped orbiting above Earth, and in “Twister,” as a storm-chaser.

From 2006 to 2011, he played Bill Henrickson, the patriarch of a polygamist family in Utah, on the HBO series “Big Love.” He received three Golden Globe nominations for his acting on the show.

In 2012, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for playing Randolph McCoy in the three-part mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys, on the History channel. And in 2014, he appeared in six episodes of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” on ABC.

From left, Mr. Paxton, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13.” Credit Ron Batzdorff/Universal Pictures

Mr. Paxton returned to TV as the star of CBS’s new police drama, “Training Day.”

A spinoff of the 2001 movie starring Denzel Washington, the series premiered earlier this month and only four episodes have been broadcast. In total, 13 episodes of “Training Day” have been filmed, and Mr. Paxton appears in all of them.

In the near term, the show will continue to be shown on Thursday nights, but its future is not certain: Reviews have been mixed — though Mr. Paxton’s performance as a rogue cop has been praised — and it averages little more than four million viewers.

Tributes to Mr. Paxton poured in on social media.

“Bill Paxton was, simply, a wonderful man. A wonderful man,” Tom Hanks, a co-star in “Apollo 13,” wrote on Twitter.

Cary Elwes, one of his co-stars in “Twister,” shared a photograph of the two men on set and said he was “very sad” to hear of Mr. Paxton’s death.

Ms. Curtis called him “a funny, talented, loving human.”

Mr. Howard called the news “crushing.”

Mr. Paxton was born on May 17, 1955, in Fort Worth. Survivors include his wife of more than 30 years, Louise Newbury; and two children, James and Lydia.

Long before his role in “Big Love,’’ Mr. Paxton was good-natured in assessing his status in Hollywood.

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HATEWATCH: HEADLINES FOR 2-23-2017

February 23, 2017

Trump turns federal government’s back on transgender citizens as the community faces attacks; threats alarm both Jewish and Muslim communities; a tattoo artist doing his part to fight hate; and more.

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Mic: 24-year-old transgender woman Keke Collier shot and killed in Chicago.

The Huffington Post: Anti-Defamation League’s New York headquarters receives bomb threat, after months of similar attacks at Jewish Community Centers.

The Huffington Post: Sean Spicer dodges question about anti-Muslim hate groups as their numbers triple.

The Guardian: Kansas town reels months after militia’s foiled mosque bombing: ‘I’m still scared’

The New York Times: At Jewish Cemetery, seeking answers on the State of anti-Semitism amid massive headstone vandalism.

Daily Kos: Alliance Defending Freedom — source of many anti-LGBTQ lawsuits and bills — officially labeled a hate group.

Right Wing Watch: It’s not just Milo: Five of the most problematic, bigoted CPAC speakers.

LGBTQ Nation: White House: Transgender students’ civil rights won’t be protected at federal level, should be left up to the states.

The Root: Interracial couple in Connecticut refuses to remove racial slur on door until cops investigate.

The Washington Post: ‘Sometimes people change’: Maryland shop covers up racist tattoos for free.

SafeHome.org: Hate on social media: A look at hate groups and their Twitter presence.

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COLORLINES: COLD AS I.C.E.

How to Brace Yourself for an ICE Raid

The Trump administration is making good on the president’s campaign promise of rounding up undocumented immigrants en masse. Here are steps you and your loved ones should take before ICE shows up.

Roxane Gay on Cancellation of Milo Yiannopoulos’ Book: Nothing Has Changed

Gay on Simon & Schuster: “In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place.”

New Doc Series, ‘Other Boys NYC,’ Shines a Light on Queer Men of Color

The series’ first 26 episodes, each of which profiles a different gay or trans man of color living in New York City, are now available through Slay TV.

 

POPULAR ON SOCIAL MEDIA

WATCH: George Takei on 75th Anniversary of Internment Camps and Why Trump Could Be Repeating History

‘Whose Streets?’ Filmmakers Discuss Activism, Emotional Toll of Working in Ferguson

Jay Z Will Be First MC Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame

SCOTUS Says Racially Biased Testimony Sentenced Black Man to Death

STUDY: Ban the Box Plus Racism Equals Discrimination Against Workers of Color

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IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-19-2017

NORMA McCORVEY, ‘ROE’ IN ROE v. WADE

Ms. McCorvey, right, with the lawyer Gloria Allred at a rally in support of abortion rights in Washington in 1989. Credit Ron Galella/WireImage

Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, reshaping the nation’s social and political landscapes and inflaming one of the most divisive controversies of the past half-century, died on Saturday in Katy, Tex. She was 69.

Her death, at an assisted-living home, was confirmed by Joshua Prager, a New York journalist who is writing a book about the Roe v. Wade decision and had interviewed her extensively. He said the cause was heart failure.

Since the ruling, perhaps 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the United States, although later court decisions and new state and federal laws have imposed restrictions, and abortions have declined with the wide use of contraceptives. Theological, ethical and legal debates about abortion continue in religious circles, governing bodies and political campaigns, and they have influenced elections, legislation and the lives of ordinary people through films, books, periodicals, the internet and other forums.

At the heart of it all, Ms. McCorvey — known as Jane Roe in the court papers — became an almost mythological figure to millions of Americans, more a symbol of what they believed in than who she was: a young Dallas woman lifted by chance into a national spotlight she never sought and tried for years to avoid, then pulled by the forces of politics to one side of the abortion conflict, then by religion to the other.

Her early life had been a Dickensian nightmare. By her own account, she was the unwanted child of a broken home, a ninth-grade dropout who was raped repeatedly by a relative, and a homeless runaway and thief consigned to reform school. She was married at 16, divorced and left pregnant three times by different men. She had bouts of suicidal depression, she said.

She was 22 and pregnant when she joined the abortion rights struggle, claiming later that she had not really understood what it was all about. When she emerged from anonymity a decade later, strangers shrieked “baby killer” and spat at her. There were death threats. One night, shotgun blasts shattered the windows of her home.

Ms. McCorvey with the Rev. Robert L. Schenck of National Clergy Council, left, and the Rev. Phillip Benham of Operation Rescue in Washington in 1996 before the annual march protesting the Roe v. Wade decision. Credit Cameron Craig/Associated Press

But she attended rallies and protest marches in support of abortion rights, worked in women’s clinics, spoke to crowds, wrote two autobiographies and was the subject of a documentary and an avalanche of newspaper and magazine articles. She became a national celebrity of sorts.

She also switched sides, from abortion rights advocate to anti-abortion campaigner. She underwent two religious conversions, as a born-again Christian and as a Roman Catholic, and became in her last decades a staunch foe of abortion, vowing to undo Roe v. Wade, testifying in Congress and bitterly attacking Barack Obama when he ran for president and then re-election.

She was never the idealized Jane Roe crusader many Americans visualized. Some observers said she became a pawn used by both sides in the maelstrom of the abortion wars as her public views shifted from one side to the other. In her first book, “I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice” (1994, with Andy Meisler), she offered what was perhaps her own most objective self-assessment.

“I wasn’t the wrong person to become Jane Roe,” she said. “I wasn’t the right person to become Jane Roe. I was just the person who became Jane Roe, of Roe v. Wade. And my life story, warts and all, was a little piece of history.”

Plucked from obscurity in 1970 by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, two young Dallas lawyers who wanted to challenge Texas laws that prohibited abortions except to save a mother’s life, Ms. McCorvey, five months pregnant with her third child, signed an affidavit she claimed she did not read. She just wanted a quick abortion and had no inkling that the case would become a cause célèbre.

Four months later, she gave birth to a daughter and surrendered her for adoption. (Her second child had also been given up for adoption, and her first was being raised by her mother.) She had little contact with her lawyers, never went to court or was asked to testify, and was uninvolved in proceedings that took three years to reach the Supreme Court.

Norma McCorvey in 1998. Credit Eric Gay/Associated Press

The majority rejected the view, pressed by opponents of liberalized abortion, that a fetus becomes a “person” upon conception and is thus entitled to the due process and equal protection guarantees.

“The word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn,” Justice Blackmun wrote, although states may acquire “at some point in time” of a pregnancy an interest in the “potential human life” that the fetus represents, to permit regulation. It is that interest, the court said, that permits states to prohibit abortion after the fetus has developed the capacity to survive.

The state’s “compelling interest” in protecting the fetus increased progressively in the second and third trimesters, the decision said. But it and a companion ruling in a Georgia case on the same day nullified abortion laws in 46 states and effectively legalized the procedure across the United States.

Ms. McCorvey learned of the decision in a newspaper. As jubilant women’s and civil liberties groups hailed it as a milestone and foes denounced it as a travesty, Ms. McCorvey stayed on the sidelines, out of touch with her lawyers, who had preserved her anonymity throughout the case. She remained largely unknown for nearly a decade, living in Dallas with her partner, Connie Gonzalez.

In the 1980s, emerging from her cocoon, she counseled patients at a women’s clinic in Dallas, joined abortion rights rallies and began talking to the news media. She made headlines in 1987 when she told the columnist Carl T. Rowan that she had lied when she told reporters in 1970 that her pregnancy had been the result of a gang rape. She said she had thought that the lie would help her get an abortion. Her lawyers did not mention the allegation, and it played no part in the lawsuit.

But it was a bombshell in the abortion debate as Ms. McCorvey became an emotional touchstone. To anti-abortion groups, she was an agent of murder in the womb and a liar who made up a rape story to get an abortion. To abortion rights proponents, she stood for all pregnant women harmed by restrictive laws.

In 1989, NBC explored the case in a television movie, “Roe v. Wade,” starring Holly Hunter, who won an Emmy in the role of Jane Roe. Critics called the film powerful and moving, despite a strained effort to balance views on abortion.

Ms. McCorvey, center, at an anti-abortion protest in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in 2009. Credit Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Ms. McCorvey also joined a Washington abortion rights rally that included 300,000 people, appearing on a speakers’ platform with Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Cybill Shepherd and Glenn Close. “I looked out at all those people, men and women, and so many people brought their children, and they were all there because of me and I started to cry,” Ms. McCorvey told The New York Times.

“Because of her ignorance and her lack of self-respect, Norma McCorvey has been more at the mercy of circumstances than many women,” Susan Cheever wrote in The New York Times Book Review.

Ms. McCorvey’s life turned sharply again in 1995. She was working in a Dallas women’s clinic, A Choice for Women, when the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue provocatively opened an office next door. “She couldn’t stand us, she hated us,” the Rev. Phillip Benham, an Evangelical minister and national director of Operation Rescue, told CNN.

But he and Ms. McCorvey met across protest lines and started talking about themselves, Christianity and abortion. She attended his church and within months was baptized by Mr. Benham as a born-again Christian.

Ms. McCorvey disowned her past and began speaking for her newly adopted cause. She blamed abortion rights advocates for violence at abortion clinics.

“I personally think it’s the pro-abortion people who are doing this to collect on their insurance, so they can go out and build bigger and better killing centers,” she told CNN in 1997.

Anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the United States. Credit Mark Wilson/Reuters

Her second autobiography, “Won by Love” (1997, with Gary Thomas), and a 1998 documentary, “Roe vs. Roe: Baptism by Fire,” detailed her conversion. In 1998, she underwent another conversion, to Roman Catholicism, after talks with the Rev. Frank Pavone, the anti-abortion crusader and director of Priests for Life.

Father Pavone, in a statement, called Ms. McCorvey a friend for more than 20 years. “She was victimized and exploited by abortion ideologues when she was a young woman but she came to be genuinely sorry that a decision named for her has led to the deaths of more than 58 million children. Norma’s conversion to Christianity, then to Catholicism, was sincere and I was honored to be part of that journey.”

She was born Norma Leah Nelson in Simmesport, La., on Sept. 22, 1947, to Olin and Mildred Nelson. Her father was a television repairman, who left the family, and Norma and a brother, James, were raised by their mother, who was an alcoholic, in Texas.

By her own account, Norma stole money from a gas station at age 10, ran away and was sent to a reform school. Later, she was sent to live with a relative, who raped her for weeks, she said. At 16, she married Elwood McCorvey, known as Woody, a steelworker who she said beat her. She returned pregnant to live with her mother, gave birth to a daughter, Melissa, and was divorced.

With drug and alcohol problems, she left her baby with her mother and took a trip. When she returned, she was arrested by the police for abandoning the child. Later, at her mother’s behest, she signed documents that she said she had not read. They were adoption papers, and her mother took legal custody. She gave birth to another child and gave the baby up for adoption in 1967. She became pregnant a third time in 1969.

After trying unsuccessfully to obtain an illegal abortion, she was sent by a lawyer to Ms. Weddington and Ms. Coffee, who began Roe v. Wade.

In 2005, Ms. McCorvey petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, claiming abortions harmed women. The court called the issue moot and denied the petition.

Active in anti-abortion demonstrations, she was arrested in 2009 at a Senate confirmation hearing for Sonia Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice. She also campaigned against Mr. Obama. “Do not vote for Barack Obama,” Ms. McCorvey said in a 2012 Florida television advertisement. “He murders babies.”

In 2016, “Roe,” a play by Lisa Loomer, featuring Ms. McCorvey and Ms. Weddington as protagonists, opened at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The playwright told The Times: “Sarah Weddington, when she approaches the subject of Roe v. Wade, it’s about the law. It’s about choice. It’s about doing something to impact the lives of all women. For Norma McCorvey, Roe is about her. It’s utterly personal.”

Correction: February 19, 2017
An earlier version of this obituary misattributed a series of quotations to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Justice Blackmun did not write, “At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are nevertheless unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons — convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. The common claim before us is that for any one of such reasons, or for no reason at all, and without asserting or claiming any threat to life or health, any woman is entitled to an abortion at her request if she is able to find a medical adviser willing to undertake the procedure. The Court for the most part sustains this position: during the period prior to the time the fetus becomes viable, the Constitution of the United States values the convenience, whim or caprice of the putative mother more than life or potential life of the fetus.” Those words were written by Justice Byron White, dissenting in Doe v. Bolton, a companion Supreme Court ruling that, together with Roe v. Wade, effectively legalized abortion across the United States.SOURCE

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GEORGE STEELE, ‘THE ANIMAL’ WRESTLER AND MILD-MANNERED TEACHER

George Steele, known in the wrestling world as the Animal during the 1970s and ’80s, had a habit of stuffing his mouth with padding torn from the turnbuckles. Credit Marc Serota for The New York Times

George Steele, a gruff, green-tongued fighter who, as the Animal, was one of wrestling’s wildest and most-hated villains for almost two decades, has died, World Wrestling Entertainment, the professional wrestling organization, said on Friday. He was 79.

The organization announced his death without specifying the cause, time or location. Eric Simms, a wrestling agent, said in a social media post Thursday that he had spoken to Mr. Steele’s wife, who said Mr. Steele had been in a hospice.

Mr. Steele, whose real name was William James Myers, was born in Madison Heights, Mich., on April 16, 1937, according to “WWE Legends,” a book by Brian Solomon. He gained fame in the 1970s and ’80s as the Animal, a hairy, grunting brute of few words. But he had little in common with that persona outside the ring.

Mr. Steele, who had dyslexia, earned a master’s degree from Central Michigan University and went on to teach high school in the Detroit area, where he moonlighted in sports-entertainment promotions, according to World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation. Mr. Steele, who is in the organization’s Hall of Fame, started appearing in W.W.F. in 1967, when he launched into a bitter rivalry with the champion Bruno Sammartino.

Mr. Steele was known for his unpredictable behavior and a signature habit of stuffing his mouth with the inner padding of the turnbuckles located at the corners of the ring.

He was a protégé of several wrestlers who subsequently became members of the WWE Hall of Fame, including Harry Fujiwara, also known as Mr. Fuji, who died last summer, and flirted many times with winning the organization’s championship.

In 1985, his career shifted course, according to WWE. Mr. Steele went from being among the most reviled figures in wrestling to one of its most loved, when, after being abandoned during a six-man match by his partners, he wound up under the guidance of the then-popular Capt. Lou Albano.

He retired from wrestling in the late 1980s after learning that he had Crohn’s disease and devoted much of his life after that to motivational speaking, spiritual testimony and promoting awareness of the disease. He later resettled in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

Mr. Steele was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1996, which noted in an online profile that Mr. Steele coached wrestling, football and track for 28 years.

Information on his survivors was not immediately available.

Vince McMahon, the WWE chairman, described Mr. Steele on Twitter as a kind man.

“George Steele was only an animal in the ring,” he said. “He was one of the truly nice men in the world.”

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BOBBY FREEMAN, ‘DO YOU WANT TO DANCE’ SINGER

Bobby Freeman on the television show “Shindig” in 1964. Credit ABC Photo Archives, via Getty Images

Bobby Freeman, whose “Do You Want to Dance” climbed the pop charts in 1958 and endured long afterward in covers by the Beach Boys, the Ramones, Bette Midler and others, died on Jan. 23 at his home in Daly City, Calif. He was 76.

The cause was a heart attack, his son Robert Freeman Jr. said on Monday. The death had not been widely reported.

Mr. Freeman was still a teenager when he wrote and recorded the song that became his signature. Sung with infectious enthusiasm and featuring a driving Latin rhythm and a joyful guitar solo, “Do You Want to Dance” reached No. 5 on the Billboard singles chart.

An energetic showman and dancer, Mr. Freeman was soon touring with Fats Domino and Jackie Wilson and appearing on television shows like “American Bandstand” and “The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beechnut Show.”

Bobby Freeman “Do You Wanna Dance” (1958) Video by NRRArchives

Mr. Freeman’s version of “Do You Want to Dance” (also known as “Do You Wanna Dance,” with and without the question mark) embodied the spirit of early rock ’n’ roll, but the secret to the song’s longevity was that artists interpreted it in myriad ways.

The Beach Boys reached No. 12 on the Billboard chart in 1965 with a typically up-tempo close-harmony interpretation. John Lennon recorded a dreamy reggae version. The Ramones ramped up Mr. Freeman’s energy to punk-rock levels. Both the Mamas and the Papas and Ms. Midler slowed the song down; Ms. Midler’s version, a sensual ballad, reached No. 17 on the Billboard chart in 1973. She told CBS News in 2006 that “Do You Want to Dance” was her favorite song.

The song was also featured on the soundtrack of George Lucas’s rock ’n’ roll coming-of-age film “American Graffiti” (1973)

Mr. Freeman was not a one-hit wonder. “C’mon and Swim” (1964) — a young Sly Stone was its producer and a co-writer — reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart. “Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes” (1958) also charted.

Robert Thomas Freeman was born in Northern California on June 13, 1940, and raised in San Francisco. He attended Mission High School there before joining the Romancers, a doo-wop group.

In addition to his son Robert, his survivors include another son, Jerrald; his partner of 17 years, Michele Ellen; two daughters, April Freeman and Nichole Hackett; and several grandchildren.

Mr. Freeman released a handful of songs after 1964, but none became hits. He spent years performing at clubs in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Reno, Las Vegas and other cities, and that was fine with him.

“I’m just as content as I could be with what I’m doing,” he told The San Francisco Chronicle in 1990. “I have no complaints whatsoever.”

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INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY: FEBRUARY 21, 2017

International Mother Language Day

The United Nations’ (UN) International Mother Language Day annually celebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. It also remembers events such as the killing of four students on February 21, 1952, because they campaigned to officially use their mother language, Bengali, in Bangladesh.

The fight for language diversity has a history, especially in countries such as Bangladesh.
©iStockphoto.com/mjunsworth

What Do People Do?

On International Mother Language Day the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agencies participate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support.

In Bangladesh, February 21 is the anniversary of a pivotal day in the country’s history. People lay flowers at a Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument). They also: purchase glass bangles for themselves or female relatives; eat a festive meal and organize parties; and award prizes or host literary competitions. It is a time to celebrate Bangladesh’s culture and the Bengali language.

The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, aims to preserve and promote linguistic diversity globally. The institute presents the Linguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year. The prize is for those who have made outstanding work in linguistic diversity or multilingual education.

Public Life

International Mother Language Day is a public holiday in Bangladesh, where it is also known as Shohid Dibôsh, or Shaheed Day. It is a global observance but not a public holiday in other parts of the world.

Background

At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. However, there was economic, cultural and lingual friction between East and West Pakistan.

These tensions were apparent in 1948 when Pakistan’s government declared that Urdu was the sole national language. This sparked protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. The government outlawed the protests but on February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the demonstrators and killed four students. These students’ deaths in fighting for the right to use their mother language are now remembered on International Mother Language Day.

The unrest continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language.

On November 17, 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 to be International Mother Language Day and it was first observed on February 21, 2000. Each year the celebrations around International Mother Language Day concentrate on a particular theme.

Symbols

The Shaheed Minar (martyr’s monument) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pays homage to the four demonstrators killed in 1952. There have been three versions of the monument. The first version was built on February 22-23 in 1952 but the police and army destroyed it within a few days. Construction on the second version started in November 1957, but the introduction of martial law stopped construction work and it was destroyed during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

The third version of the Shaheed Minar was built to similar plans as the second version. It consists of four standing marble frames and a larger double marble frame with a slanted top portion. The frames are constructed from marble and stand on a stage, which is raised about four meters (14 feet) above the ground. The four frames represent the four men who died on February 21, 1952, and the double frame represents their mothers and country. Replicas of the Shaheed Minar have been constructed worldwide where people from Bangladesh have settled, particularly in London and Oldham in the United Kingdom.

An International Mother Language Day monument was erected at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia, on February 19, 2006.  It consists of a slab of slate mounted vertically on a raised platform. There are stylized images of the Shaheed Minar and the globe on the face of the stone. There are also the words “we will remember the martyrs of 21st February” in English and Bengali and words in five alphabets to represent mother languages on five continents where people live.

International Mother Language Day Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sun Feb 21 2010 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Mon Feb 21 2011 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 21 2012 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2013 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 21 2014 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sat Feb 21 2015 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Sun Feb 21 2016 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Tue Feb 21 2017 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Wed Feb 21 2018 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Thu Feb 21 2019 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance
Fri Feb 21 2020 International Mother Language Day United Nations observance

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WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL JUSTICE: FEBRUARY 20, 2017

World Day of Social Justice

The United Nations’ (UN) World Day of Social Justice is annually observed on February 20 to encourage people to look at how social justice affects poverty eradication. It also focuses on the goal of achieving full employment and support for social integration.

The World Summit for Social Development, which promoted social justice, was held in Copenhagen (pictured above) in 1995.
©iStockphoto.com/rusm

What Do People Do?

Many organizations, including the UN and the International Labour Office, make statements on the importance of social justice for people. Many organizations also present plans for greater social justice by tackling poverty, social and economic exclusion and unemployment. Trade unions and campaign groups are invited to call on their members and supporters to mark the day. The Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions declared that the common slogan would be “Social Justice and Decent Life for All!”.

Schools, colleges and universities may prepare special activities for the day or plan a week of events around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Different media, including radio and television stations, newspapers and Internet sites, may give attention to the issues around the World Day of Social Justice.

It is hoped that particular coverage is given to the links between the illicit trade in diamonds and armed conflicts, particularly in Africa, and the importance of the International Criminal Court. This is an independent court that conducts trials of people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Public Life

The World Day of Social Justice is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

The World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995 and resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. At this summit, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the conquest of poverty and full employment, as well as stable, safe and just societies, their overriding objectives. They also agreed on the need to put people at the center of development plans.

Nearly 10 years later, the UN’s member states reviewed the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action when they gathered at a session of the Commission for Social Development in New York in February 2005. They also agreed to commit to advance social development. On November 26, 2007, the UN General Assembly named February 20 as the annual World Day of Social Justice. The day was scheduled to be first observed in 2009.

2017 Theme: “Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work”

World Day of Social Justice Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type
Sat Feb 20 2010 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Sun Feb 20 2011 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Mon Feb 20 2012 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Wed Feb 20 2013 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Thu Feb 20 2014 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Fri Feb 20 2015 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Sat Feb 20 2016 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Mon Feb 20 2017 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Tue Feb 20 2018 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Wed Feb 20 2019 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance
Thu Feb 20 2020 World Day of Social Justice United Nations observance

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SKYWATCH: NASA SELECTS THREE MARS 2020 ROVER LANDING SITES, FIND HIDDEN GEMS IN COMMON CELESTIALTARGETS, AND MORE

LATEST NEWS

Scientists Find Organics on Ceres

Sky & Telescope

The Dawn spacecraft has detected organic compounds on the dwarf planet Ceres.

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NASA Narrows Down Mars 2020 Rover Landing Sites

Sky & Telescope

Three possible landing sites are now in the running for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

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Hubble Spies Faint Galaxies, Bountiful in Early Universe

Sky & Telescope

Hubble has spotted more than 100 small, faint galaxies in the young universe, common as dust bunnies but previously out of reach of even the best telescopes.

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Scientists Recreate Space Weather of 400 Years Ago

Sky & Telescope

If the Sun goes spotless in decades to come, as some scientists are predicting it might, what does it mean for Earth? Scientists are studying the past to predict the future of space weather.

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Meteorites Date Demise of Solar Nebula

Sky & Telescope

A study of ancient meteorites has refined the date for the dissolution of the solar nebula, the cloud of dust and gas that shrouded our Sun in its earliest days.

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This Week’s Sky at a Glance, February 17 – 25

Sky & Telescope

Last-quarter Moon will occur before dawn on Sunday the 19th — look for it in the south-southeast. Antares and upper Scorpius are below and to the lower right of it, respectively, and Saturn is farther to the Moon’s lower left, as shown here.

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Comet 45P Returns to Dark Skies

Sky & Telescope

After battling moonlight, Comet 45P/H-M-P returns for a final go-round in dark skies. Even better, it’s up by 10 o’clock!

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Hidden Gems in Common Deep-Sky Objects

Sky & Telescope

Many of the deep-sky objects we point our telescopes toward have pleasant surprises, some in plain sight, others hidden and more challenging. Let me introduce you to a few.

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Tour February’s Sky: How To Find Monoceros

Sky & Telescope

Download our monthly astronomy podcast to spot Venus and Mars in the west — and a celestial unicorn hiding in plain sight among the stars.

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